A cough can be a minor annoyance or a chronic condition, causing lots of problems.
There must be hardly anyone who has not suffered from episodes of cough at different times. It is a very common condition, though reasons and causes for it may be different in different people at varying age groups. Usually a cough occurs when there is a tickling sensation at the back of the throat, forcing the person to cough. There are mainly two types of cough, the dry cough and the wet or productive cough wherein a person brings up sputum or mucus.
What causes you to cough
Cough can be caused by common cold or a sore throat. Among other causes of cough are:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Smoker’s cough
- Change of weather
- Nasal drip
If you have a cough, you obviously know about it. You may start off by taking over the counter cough medicines or lozenges. However, if you have discolored sputum in a productive cough or the cough is accompanied by fever or difficulty in breathing, it is best to go to a doctor. After taking your medical history, the doctor will check your throat, chest and lungs and perhaps your nose and ears as well. If he hears any sounds in the bronchi or lungs, he may ask for an X-ray to rule out pneumonia or bronchitis.
There are other diagnostic tests for different diseases, which may need to be investigated in case the cough does not settle down. Unfortunately when the cough is severe and constant, it can disrupt sleep and cause other problems as well. And if you have cough which originates in the chest, you should see the doctor and not try to treat it on your own.
How do i get rid of my cough
Depending on the kind of cough you have, the doctor may prescribe prescription strength cough syrups. These may include an anti-allergic component and/or a bronchodilator. Cough syrups often cause drowsiness and you may be advised to lay off driving. Unfortunately cough medicines are also addictive and open to abuse, but that is another story. If you have pneumonia or bronchitis, you may have to take a course of antibiotics. For fever, you will be given Tylenol or a similar drug.
When the cough is extremely persistent and does not respond to treatment, the doctor may put you on oral cortisone drugs. Diseases like tuberculosis have specific treatment, but are rare in western countries. Some coughs can be infectious and some are not – if a cough is caused by allergy or is a smoker’s cough, nobody else is going to get it from you.
How to stop coughing from a cold
Inhaling plain steam or steam with some Vicks or eucalyptus or peppermint oil can also help with cough. Sucking on lozenges or sweets can also soothe an irritated throat. You should also have hot liquids like soups and heated drinks. A mixture of lemon juice and honey with hot water can help relieve the symptoms. Green fennel seeds and rock sugar also help alleviate the symptoms.
Ways to help a cough
The cause of the cough should be properly diagnosed and then appropriate treatment should be given. While cough does not cause complications per se, cough can be a symptom of something serious like lung or other chest cancers, heart failure, acid reflux disease or other major ailments. A person with persistent and heavy cough, who also suffers from osteoporosis, can even fracture ribs due to coughing.
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If you have an occasional episodic cough, which responds to home remedies or doctor’s treatment you should be fine and get over it. However, a chronic cough which does not respond to treatment needs to be investigated.